7-Day Sandtray Therapy Journal (Days 1-5)--Student #2

by Sand Tray Therapy Student
(Atlanta, Ga.)

Day 1: June 14, 2013

I wanted to be alert when I started my sandtray for sand tray therapy class so waited until after I had taken a nap and was fully awake before creating my world. I began my sandtray therapy assigment by placing a cardboard house which was full of hearts in the back right corner. The door knob to the door, the two windows, and the planters outside the door were all heart-shaped. Next, I placed 4 pieces of a picket fence in front of the house. I wanted this fence to block any obstacles that would keep anything negative from entering the house full of love. There is no gate keeping out anyone who wants to enter but an opening in the fence. Next, I took small stones and created a walk-way up to the house. I added colorful flowers on both sides of the house because I wanted the house to be inviting.
Now, I added a dog right behind the fence close to the walkway. This was a welcoming, friendly dog who added joy to the household. I found a kind-looking woman miniature which represented myself and placed her across from the dog on the other side of the walkway. My husband is a big part of my life so I wanted to make sure I had him right behind me. I chose a cowboy holding a lasso so he could protect me if I needed help. Next, I clothes-pinned hearts across the picket fence. There was one heart for each piece of fence. Next, I chose a smiley-faced ball and placed that inside the house. I want my house to be happy. I also added a large 3-D red heart that had a string and hung that off the side of the house to show the love that I strive for inside my house.
I placed a skateboard miniature coming up the walkway. I see the skateboard as a somewhat unstable way to move. There is a miniature reaching out to make it onto the skateboard and striving to jump on. Next, I added a horse outside of the fence. This horse is gentle and friendly. I added a “Superdog” miniature outside the front of the fence that is protecting the house. A mailbox is important by the front fence to communicate with the outside world. I also added another heart outside the front fence and another small dog near the front of the house. I put a book right outside the front door to represent knowledge that I continue to seek as I strive to become wiser.
In the left back corner, I placed a cowgirl miniature with one arm raised and holding a rifle upright with the other hand. I placed a buffalo and covered wagon near her. This part of my sandtray represents my “wild side.” I love adventure and exploring the world. When I am in my house, I want it to be filled with love and peace. However, there is a part of me that likes to be outside my house exploring the bigger world.
The last miniature that I placed in my sandtray was a tree outside the front fence. I love trees and nature and this kind-looking tree reminds me of the time I spend outside my house. The next-to-last miniature I placed in the sandtray was a wooden cross. I put this by the front of the house to remind myself that God created me and seeking God can help me to find love since God is love. The third-to-last miniature I chose was the covered wagon. I placed that beside the “wild girl” and the buffalo. Even though I love exploring, I still want to feel protected.
I feel really good after completing my sandtray on Day 1.

Day 2: June 15, 2013

On Day 2, I created a new hot spot in the left front corner of the sandtray. I added a large colorful heart that I had found which my daughter had made of melted plastic beads when she was young and laid that down on top of the sand. This heart represents my daughter’s love and zeal for life. I laid it down flat because, unfortunately, her zeal was taken away when her brother was diagnosed with cancer. Next, I placed a girl beside the heart. This girl is my daughter. I moved myself and my husband out from behind the fence in front of our house and over beside our daughter. I am on one side of our daughter and my husband is on the other side. We are both facing her. Behind my husband, I placed Mickey Mouse who represents our son. Now, my entire immediate family is represented in the area of the sandtray.

Day 3: June 15, 2013

Today was Father’s Day so I decided to completely change my sandtray to honor my husband who is a fantastic father and wonderful role model for me. First, I made a mountain in the center of the sandtray. I continued to use the lasso-ing cowboy miniature to represent my husband and placed him on top of the mountain. He is certain of his faith so he has the cross in front of him. There is water at the base of half of the mountain. The water represents the Holy Spirit which helps to give my husband strength to reach the top of the mountain. He is confident in being victorious over sin and death because of a loving and caring God. I placed 2 victory cups, one on either side of him.
Next, I made a small mountain in the left back corner of the sandtray. I placed the cowgirl figurine that I had used to represent my wild self on top of the small mountain. My husband is facing away from me because his desire is for me to have greater faith and he is leading me there by teaching me about building my faith. I put the bridge in the sandtray to connect myself to my husband.
In the front right corner of the try, I placed 2 kind Indian miniatures to represent a group who are looking toward the mountain and contemplating climbing it. One Indian is holding a peace pipe. The other Indian is holding a bow and arrow so that he can fight off any enemies. I also added a teepee, cow, and a man riding a horse to show that it takes a village to help us reach our goals.
In the back right corner of the tray, I stuck in a shovel to show that I am willing to work at being open to my husband’s teaching and growing my faith.
Next-to-last, I put flowers in the victory cups. White symbolizes the purity we will find when we reach our destination in heaven. Last, I placed two men beside me. One is holding his hand in the air and looks like he is saying, “All clear to cross.” The other man has his hand raised in the air and is holding a megaphone and is offering encouraging words.
This sandtray is very hope-filled.

Day 4: June 17, 2013

I changed and rearranged the miniatures today to depict my life with my husband from the time we were parents of young children until now. First, I placed a large treasure chest in the center of the sandtray. This represents the opportunity that we both have to offer our gifts to help others. Next, I chose a miniature of a woman carrying a child to represent myself and a miniature of a man carrying a child to represent my husband. When our children were young, we carried them and gave them a lot of support.
Next, I added a pathway from our lives with young children to the treasure chest. I extended the pathway from the treasure chest to the right front side of the sandtray and placed the miniature of the wild cowgirl to represent myself and the lasso-ing cowboy to represent my husband. Facing us are 5 wild animals: a giraffe, panther, cheetah, elephant, and lion. These are our children and others that need us to teach them. Among the wild animals are three men who are helping to train the animals. A teepee and covered wagon are near us to give us a place to rest as we work hard towards accomplishing our goals of helping others. As a counselor, I am trying to teach people who need skills to learn to deal with the difficulties of their lives. My husband is trying to make a difference in the philanthropic community. In the back right corner behind me and my husband is a large praying mantis entering the sandtray with a cross beside it. This represents that “all things are possible with God” and prayer.
After completing my sand tray, I am feeling excited that I am working towards my goal of learning what I need to help me become an excellent counselor.

Day 5: June 18, 2013

My sandtray centered around my work as a counselor intern today. I placed myself in the center of the back of the tray with a large heart behind me. I have a doctor bag with a heart on it and another heart in the sand beside me to represent having a heart to help others. There are four non-threatening farm animals around me. These represent some of the patients that I work with at Ridgeview. There is a pig, sheep, dog, and horse.
In front of me is a praying mantis and a cross. These represent using empathy and caring to do God’s work of helping people who are hurting. I pray for myself to be an instrument for God and I pray for the patients to learn coping skills to help them in their lives.
In front of the praying mantis are 3 pieces of fence with hearts on them. The fence is open to give the patients room to get through and get to a place where they can be happy again. There are 2 extra hearts in the sand showing that with the love and caring of the Ridgeview staff, the patients will get by any barriers keeping them from remaining sick.
A victory flag is in the center of the front of the tray to represent my success in helping some of the patients. In the front left corner of the sandtray is a girl with a barrel of monkeys poured out in front of her to show that laughter has returned for her. There is also a stove so that she can enjoy baking and cooking. In the right front corner, there is a princess. She has flowers around her, a mailbox with a heart on it, and a table filled with yummy cupcakes to eat. These girls have gotten the help that they need and are being joyful again.

Sand Tray Therapy Extended Tray Assigment

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Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.

*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed  mental health professional immediately.

"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.

Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.

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